“It is shocking to witness Europe’s inability to properly handle such a low number of migrants stranded at the Poland-Belarus border, especially as I have just flown out of Iran which is receiving up to 5,000 Afghans a day. A few thousand people at Europe’s Polish border, many of whom have fled some of the worst crises in the world, is a drop in the ocean compared to the number of people displaced to countries that are much poorer elsewhere.
The way Belarus is using migrants and refugees to achieve political ends is equally outrageous. Vulnerable people are not chess pawns to be used in a geopolitical struggle. But this does not in any way free Europe from its responsibility to ensure that people turning up on our borders are allowed to seek asylum and are treated humanely. Too many European nations are fixated on erecting walls and outsourcing to poorer nations their responsibility to protect displaced people.
International responsibility-sharing cannot simply be reduced to providing financial and humanitarian support to refugee-hosting countries. It must also include Europe keeping borders open for those seeking protection according to the same rules it expects other countries to abide by.
European values are dangerously under threat when people are allowed to die from hypothermia at its external border. Europe was the cradle for the Refugee Convention when its citizens were forced to flee after World War II. The EU and Schengen countries must now ensure that Poland and other nations managing their external borders abide by international obligations.”
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